Lions to descend on Craig

Service group's district convention this weekend

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Maybe they forgot to bring their vests or got caught talking out of turn.

These are two offenses most savvy Lions Club members try to avoid. Though the fines are only a quarter -- and some good-humored chastising -- it's one way the Craig and Cedar Mountain Lions Club raise money for charity.

This weekend, buckets full of quarters may change hands as Craig's two Lions clubs host their annual district convention at the Holiday Inn.

"I look forward to having the convention here," said Marvin Pearson, a Lions Club member of 31 years. "It's very entertaining."

About 100 club members from the Western Slope region are expected. Activities include seminars on club projects and speeches from the club's international and regional leaders.

A game of golf, a barbecue and a group breakfast will round out the weekend, said Craig Lions Club President Al Shepherd

"You do recognize people you haven't seen for a while," Shepherd said. "It's a good time to get caught up."

Lions Club International was founded in 1917, and a club started in Craig in 1922. The club boasts 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs in almost 200 countries.

Though the International Association of Lions Clubs claims to have the largest membership among service groups worldwide, local Lions Club membership is waning.

Three decades ago, the Craig Lions Club boasted more than 80 members. That is down to 30.

While Craig clubs are flush with older members, they aren't easily replaced by younger recruits.

Shepherd attributes the shift to residents' busier lifestyles.

"Membership in most service organizations has gone down," he said. "I attribute it to modern TV and the toys people have now. There's not the same level of commitment by people that there used to be."

Pearson hopes to see that trend reversed because Lions Club members tend to be community-orientated, he said.

Lions Club members sponsor a 9News Health Fair, organize community parades and host an annual Easter egg hunt, among other events.

They generally collect funds for sight conservation through Christmas tree sales, club dues and other activities.

Friday and Saturday's convention is a good time to get potential members on board, Pearson said.

New members are expected to circulate the convention, mingling and gaining signatures from club leaders. New members are later introduced to the assembly, Pearson said.

Anyone can apply for membership into the club and attend the convention.

Visitors regularly accompany members to bi-monthly club meetings. The gatherings generally include a meal and silly antics meant to part owners from their quarters. After the second visit, guests are asked to pay for the meal and join the club.

"Any new members who are so inclined to come would be welcome," Pearson said about the convention and other Lions Club meetings. "The more the merrier."

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